Digital Camera Buying Guide

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Digital Camera Buying Guide - Part I | Part III

Digital Camera types

There are three major Digital Camera product types, each made to excel at a different photographic application. They are Compact, Prosumer and DSLR. Here is the different between them:

Compact DC
Compact Digital Cameras are designed for cons image quality. 

Prosumer DC
Prosumer Digital Cameras cut the same figures as DSLR Cameras and are capable of high image resolutions and very high image quality. Most of them also support a full range of manual controls, but all use built-in lens (they do not support interchangeable lenses).

DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) Cameras are designed for professional and enthusiast use. Providing high image resolution and excellent image quality, they support interchangeable lenses, sophisticated accessories and feature a full range of manual controls.


What are the specifications that require my attention?

Generally speaking, a higher resolution image sensor is better than a low resolution image sensor. Sensor resolution corresponds to the maximum image resolution a camera is capable of. A higher resolution image sensor allows you to capture images in higher resolutions. Today, most digital cameras sport between 6 and 10 Megapixels or above.

A higher image resolution means you can print that image in larger sizes without degradation to image quality. But it is also depend on the image sensor size and lens quality. For example, Nikon D2Hs just has 4.1 million effective pixels, but printing quality is much better than a lot of 10 mega pixels Compact DC.

Image sensor size is a very important factor affecting the quality of the final image. Bigger is usually better as larger image sensors typically produce higher quality images. Some of the more popular image sensor sizes include 1/2.5 inch, 1/1.8inch, 2/3 inch, and 3/4 inch. Compact digital cameras usually sport smaller sized image sensors and DSLR or Prosumer DC will feature larger image sensors.


Display (LCD)
Unlike film cameras which only sport viewfinders, most digital cameras add an LCD display to a standard viewfinder. With the LCD display, you are able to preview an image before you take the shot and are able to view the image immediately afterwards.

Most digital camera LCDs are about 1.5 to 3 inches in size and about 110k to 310k pixels in resolution. Larger, higher resolution LCDs help to provide a clearer, more comfortable viewing experience.


Lens (ZOOM)
DSLR cameras feature interchangeable lenses. All other digital camera types feature built-in lenses.

Built-in lenses vary widely in terms of optical zoom range. Today, optical zoom capability for most compact digital camerasis often between 3X to 6X. Prosumer digital cameras feature 5X to 12X zoom.

Most digital cameras also feature digital zoom. Digital zoom is magnification via software process and can reduce final image quality. Most digital cameras offer between 4X to 6X digital magnification.


While a 24 or 36 shot roll of film was the required single-use "storage" format for film cameras, digital cameras use flash memory instead. Users can save hundreds of images in a single flash card (based on image size, quality settings and card capacity). Different cameras may use different types of flash memory. The CF, SD/MMC, MS and XD are the four main types of Flash memory card formats available for digital cameras

CF: short for Compact Flash, measures 42.8 × 36.4 × 3.3mm, and weighs between 8 to 15g. Most professional DSLR cameras support the CF card.

SD/MMC: Security Digital/Multimedia Card. These two formats are supported by most digital cameras.

MS (PRO): Memory Stick (PRO) was originally developed by Sony Inc. Today, most Sony brand digital cameras will support it. Certain compact Sony digital cameras use the reduced size Memory Stick called MS DUO (PRO).

xD: The xD-Picture Card was developed by Fujifilm and Olympus and find support only in these brands of digital camera.


Like any electronic device, digital cameras also require batteries for power. There are two types of battery for digital cameras: the model-specific battery pack, and the standard AA/AAA sized battery.

Standard AA/AAA battery
For cameras that can use AA/AA batteries, users have the option of using either rechargeable or disposable AA/AAA batteries easily available at any stores or supermarket.     

Model-specific battery pack
Typically supports only a specific model of digital camera and is rechargeable. After a full charge it provides a longer battery life relevant to standard AA/AAA batteries and should allow for a few hundred shots.


Digital Camera Buying Guide - Part I| Part III

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